Local leaders in many communities around the country are working to keep people with mental illnesses out jails and prisons. While state and federal policies can support these efforts, most lasting change happens at the local level. Strong partnerships are the key to success. NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates are key partners and work closely with police chiefs, sheriffs, judges and other criminal justice leaders as well as with mental health system leaders.
Reentry and Community Support
Re-entry planning. Corrections agencies should coordinate with local and state agencies in the community to ensure prisoners living with mental illness have a plan in place that will ensure they return home successfully. Read NAMIís guide to re-entry planning to learn more.
Restoration of Benefits. Many people with serious mental illness rely on Medicaid and SSI for vital health care and income supports, but in most states, these benefits are terminated at arrest. States can change this policy to allow more people to automatically resume benefits on release. Where states terminate benefits, individuals need to plan to reapply for SSI and Medicaid before leaving prison.
- Specialized probation and parole. In some communities, probation and parole officers are trained to work specifically with people with serious mental illness.
- Deschutes County, Ore., has a specialized probation and parole program to help people living with mental illness succeed.
- Cost Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB) is a new site to help communities make sound decisions about criminal justice interventions.